Fairborn, Bath sue over biodigester


FAIRBORN — The City of Fairborn and Bath Township Monday filed a federal lawsuit against biodigester owners/operators Renergy Inc., and Dovetail Energy LLC and the Ohio and United States environmental protection agencies.

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District court in Dayton, alleges that Renergy and Dovetail violated the federal Clean Air Act by allowing the biodigester on Herr Road to emit significant quantities of ammonia without applying for and obtaining an air pollution permit, without controlling the ammonia emissions with the best available technology, and without following the mandates of Ohio’s air toxics law. Ammonia is an air toxic contaminant in Ohio.

The USEPA and Ohio EPA are named as defendants for allegedly failing to enforce the Clean Air Act and Ohio’s air pollution laws by allowing Renergy and Dovetail to operate a digestate lagoon without first obtaining an air permit that includes air toxics protections and best available technology requirements.

Prior to filing its lawsuit, Fairborn and Bath Township sent USEPA, Ohio EPA, Renergy and Dovetail a letter detailing the violations of the federal and state air laws and provided 60 days to try and work out a resolution, according to a press release from Fairborn.

“We gave all involved an opportunity to discuss the issues with us in an attempt to resolve the matter without litigation. No one took the opportunity,” said Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson. “We take the health and safety of our citizens seriously, and we could not stand by while this issue continued unaddressed and unabated.”

This lawsuit follows one filed on April 15 by Ohio Attorney General David Yost, who alleges that Renergy Inc., and Dovetail Energy, LLC are allowing the organic waste processing facility to emit ammonia without a permit.

Built in 2013, the biodigester uses a sealed anaerobic digestion tank to produce methane that is used to generate electricity. According to the state’s lawsuit, the plant’s operations result in the production of waste sludge, called digestate, that is stored “initially in a concrete tank and ultimately land applied by area farms as fertilizer.”

Yost’s lawsuit claims that the plant initially accepted only agricultural waste, but sometime between it’s opening and February 2018, “the company started introducing non-agricultural organic wastes into its process.” While pollutant permits for some aspects of the operations have been obtained, the lawsuit says “the company failed to obtain the required permit for the digestate storage tank at the time it started introducing non-agricultural organic wastes into the process and thus became subject to regulation.”

We reached out to Renergy and the Ohio and U.S. EPA and are waiting on comment.

Fairborn is being represented by Clean Air Act environmental litigator April Bott from Taft Law’s Columbus office. Bath Township is being represented by William Haak.

File photo The lagoon at the Herr Road biodigester facility is the subject of a pair of lawsuits.
https://www.fairborndailyherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/50/2022/04/web1_biodigester3.jpgFile photo The lagoon at the Herr Road biodigester facility is the subject of a pair of lawsuits.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

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